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D&D 5E Flanking

Rockyroad

Explorer
We used flanking in our games but then we abandoned it because it was fairly easy to get and we thought advantage was a little too much of eh, an advantage, and it diminished some class abilities such as rage and the samurai fighting spirit abilities. But then we reimplemented because we missed the tactical aspect that it brought to the game and we all know that melee combat needs a little love in this game. But we changed flanking to give +2 to attacks instead of advantage. Our barbarian loved it because they could recklessly attack for advantage plus get the +2 bonus when flanking.

Another variant flanking rule I'm thinking of using would be as follows. In any given round, if there are melee attacks against a target from multiple attackers, the first melee attacker against that target that round would make attack rolls normally. All subsequent melee attackers that round against the target will get +2 to attack rolls if attacking the target from the side and +5 if attacking from the target's rear. This is kind of a reverse correlate to the cover rules for ranged combat. The orientation of the target is defined as if it was facing the first melee attacker.

So how many of you guys use the optional flanking rule in your games and do you use it as written or homebrew it?

Edit: Because there seems to be some confusion about the facing I'm using in this proposed flanking rule, let me clarify. This is not the facing rules from the DMG. The only effect of "facing" in context to my proposed flanking rules is so that attackers know where to position themselves to be either on the side or rear of the target. There are no other mechanical effects to this "facing" that I refer to. It's just an orientation marker.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
I use the following rule to make flanking a lockdown maneuver as opposed to an increase in chance to hit:

1.) When a creature is flanked, it provokes opportunity attacks from any adjacent foes whenever it moves.

2.) A target can ignore a creature for purposes of being flanked by granting it a special opportunity attack. This opportunity attack does not require a reaction.

The idea behind item 2 is to limit the concerns over trivial flankers. Ihave always found it odd that a powerful warrior would not focus their attention on the bigger threat and just take their lumps from a lesser foe.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It makes sense 'realistically' -- teaming up on a single opponent provides an enormous advantage. But in a heroic game, that advantage needs to be toned down a lot.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It's too easy to get advantage by flanking and the benefit in this edition is too great. We don't use it.

I find folks who want flanking or the like are generally just looking for more tactical movement in their games which can easily be brought into play by including difficult or hazardous terrain and terrain elevations.
 



Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
Most groups I've been in as a player did the advantage rule, and I'm mostly fine with that. However as a DM I felt like it is just too easy to set up, and decided it wasn't working for me when I had a Rogue who seemed to just never miss the sneak attack in large part because of it and, of course, crit those sneak attacks twice as often. It seemed to just overwhelm a lot of the fights once the player learned to exploit flanking to the hilt (of course looking back that particular Rogue should have had disadvantage through most of that particular dungeon due to lacking darkvision, but I didn't notice that at the time).

Currently I'm experimenting with having flanking add an extra d4 to the attack roll, potentially stacking with advantage (or disadvantage). Worth getting, and incentivizes getting into melee and taking care in positioning, but it doesn't make advantage nearly so ubiquitous, or step on the toes of various other ways to get advantage. None of the players in that game have really gotten into exploiting flanking so I can't really say much for the results other than that it has not been a problem so far.

The theory behind a d4 rather than a static modifier was mostly just that I like rolling dice and having it be unpredictable, but also because it feels like a more distinct and memorable rule and because rolling an extra die feels more in spirit like advantage, without actually bringing in all the rules significance advantage has.
 

I feel that if you want to use flanking, you have to make something harder to get than just sitting in one spot. I would suggest that if you hit a target with a melee attack you grant the Help benefit for someone attacking the same target from a flanking position. This prevents it from just being an auto benefit, while allowing focus fire (a common player tactic), and it encourages someone who's flanked to get out of it quickly (either by sucking up the OA or taking the Disengage action)

Ah, yes, melee fighters standing in columns and dancing around, my favourite.
This has been my experience in 3E. Everyone moves to get into a flank, creating a conga line. Once in place everyone is locked down until part of the chain breaks. Having a benefit to flanking that is of minor benefit might be okay, but it can't be something better than focus fire tactics.

I use the following rule to make flanking a lockdown maneuver as opposed to an increase in chance to hit:

1.) When a creature is flanked, it provokes opportunity attacks from any adjacent foes whenever it moves.

2.) A target can ignore a creature for purposes of being flanked by granting it a special opportunity attack. This opportunity attack does not require a reaction.

The idea behind item 2 is to limit the concerns over trivial flankers. Ihave always found it odd that a powerful warrior would not focus their attention on the bigger threat and just take their lumps from a lesser foe.
I think part 1 is a pretty good addition. Part 2 just doesn't really seem all that worthwhile an addition. The target has to either Withdraw (which I feel is an underused action, along with Dodge) or take an attack from both the stronger and weaker enemy. This effectively locks them in place, which is the point of part 1.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
We used flanking in our games but then we abandoned it because it was fairly easy to get and we thought advantage was a little too much of eh, an advantage, and it diminished some class abilities such as rage and the samurai fighting spirit abilities. But then we reimplemented because we missed the tactical aspect that it brought to the game and we all know that melee combat needs a little love in this game. But we changed flanking to give +2 to attacks instead of advantage. Our barbarian loved it because they could recklessly attack for advantage plus get the +2 bonus when flanking.

Another variant flanking rule I'm thinking of using would be as follows. In any given round, if there are melee attacks against a target from multiple attackers, the first melee attacker against that target that round would make attack rolls normally. All subsequent melee attackers that round against the target will get +2 to attack rolls if attacking the target from the side and +5 if attacking from the target's rear. This is kind of a reverse correlate to the cover rules for ranged combat. The orientation of the target is defined as if it was facing the first melee attacker.

So how many of you guys use the optional flanking rule in your games and do you use it as written or homebrew it?
at first I thought this seemed interesting but that there was something wrong about it that I jut couldn't place till I let it stew some. This probably works fine for a player, but the gm is now going to need to track every round which monsters have been attacked because there are multiple ways to make yourself immune to the aoO for movig away by attacking the target & what better way to abuse it by moving away & tagging multiple baddies the target is engaged with or just tagging them on your way to your real target
 

We are (predictably) finding that it advantages whichever team is larger. When surrounded by mooks (goblins, kobolds, whatever) not only do they have an easier time getting advantage, but typically it benefits them more because they have a lower % chance to hit us than we do them.

But against solo bosses it's really one-sided. It requires either some kind of tactical adjustment (e.g., in order to flank you expose yourself to a secondary risk) or should be modified against larger creatures.
 

BookTenTiger

Adventurer
d20 Conan had a rule that each subsequent attacker targeting the same enemy got a further +1 on their attack. I could see this being adapted to a new flanking house rule.

Another idea I had was that Flanking increases the critical hit range of Melee attacks to 19-20.
 

DM Dave1

Hero
We jettisoned the optional flanking rule at our table, too. Now the DM just applies advantage (or disadvantage) when the PC's (or monster's/NPC's) approach really warrants it. This method causes players to get a little more creative than just "get on the other side of the baddie".
 


NotAYakk

Legend
Flanking: when a creature ends its turn surrounded, they become flanked until they are no longer surrounded.

All attacks on flanked creatures are at advantage.

---

The idea is to encourage mobility; both threatening a flank and escaping from one. Shoving creatures, killing them, eating OAs, disengaging, flyby abilities; all become tactically stronger.
 
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werecorpse

Adventurer
We considered it but given:
A: The bonus proposed (advantage);
B: The ease of moving around an opponent into a flanking position without provoking opportunity attacks; and
C: The fact it would thus routinely grant the benefit to the larger sized force it makes outnumbering a greater advantage when it’s already very significant in 5e.

We have never used it.

We have considered the gang up rule “every extra foe that attacks a creature in a round gets another +1 to hit” that Savage World uses but haven’t used it due to the added bookkeeping, concerned about exacerbating conga line style combat and item C above. Still might give it a try one day.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Most groups I've been in as a player did the advantage rule, and I'm mostly fine with that. However as a DM I felt like it is just too easy to set up, and decided it wasn't working for me when I had a Rogue who seemed to just never miss the sneak attack in large part because of it and, of course, crit those sneak attacks twice as often. It seemed to just overwhelm a lot of the fights once the player learned to exploit flanking to the hilt (of course looking back that particular Rogue should have had disadvantage through most of that particular dungeon due to lacking darkvision, but I didn't notice that at the time).

Currently I'm experimenting with having flanking add an extra d4 to the attack roll, potentially stacking with advantage (or disadvantage). Worth getting, and incentivizes getting into melee and taking care in positioning, but it doesn't make advantage nearly so ubiquitous, or step on the toes of various other ways to get advantage. None of the players in that game have really gotten into exploiting flanking so I can't really say much for the results other than that it has not been a problem so far.

The theory behind a d4 rather than a static modifier was mostly just that I like rolling dice and having it be unpredictable, but also because it feels like a more distinct and memorable rule and because rolling an extra die feels more in spirit like advantage, without actually bringing in all the rules significance advantage has.
You’re playing Level Up already!
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
As others have pointed out, the flanking rule from the DMG makes it too easy to gain advantage. +2 to hit or +1d4 on your attack roll instead of advantage can work if you really want a flanking rule.

I actually really like the Facing rule, provided the Mark rule is also in play. That also allows you to make use of tactical positioning to gain advantage, but it takes more work to get that advantage than flanking.
 


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